The Parkland Jay's Excellent Adventure

by Roy Schmaus
A very unofficial account of the Parkland Jays Good Sam Club's first ever camp out on the 1998 Victoria Day long week end.

"The Jasper Lodge!..And I have nothing to wear!" exclaimed Janet as she glanced over the Good Sam activity schedule that Freda (a.k.a. Mrs.Wagonmaster.) had given to us at the last meeting. Outside the rain pelted down on our trailer,as it had all night. " She's made reservations for Sunday brunch at the Lodge and all I packed were blue jeans and shorts. Can we go back into Hinton for breakfast and maybe I can find some slacks at Wal-Mart."

Our Good Sam club had booked spaces at the Folding Mountain Resort for the May,1998 long week end and a couple of us had arrived ahead of time on Thursday,May 14th. We had managed a couple of interesting hikes near the campground that afternoon before the rain started and the temperature dropped.

Friday,May 15

"Good Grief",I said as I rummaged through the back storage bin and discovered that I had -um- forgotten to pack enough underwear. "Let's go!." We drove back to Hinton and went to Smitty's restaurant for breakfast.

"They had snow at Cadomin this morning." said the pretty waitress as she poured our coffee. "Don't worry too much about that.," I said as Janet looked at me anxiously. "Cadomin is about thirty kilometers South of here but is at a much higher elevation and is also sort of famous as a cold place where the wind is always blowing." "Now we know why half the club said there was no way they were going to the mountains in mid May." said Janet as she shivered with imaginary cold.

After breakfast we bought supplies at the big,new,shopping center on the West end of Hinton before returning to the campground to await the arrival of the rest of the club members. The rain had let up a bit by late afternoon as our club members started to arrive.

"What's that noise?" I said to Janet while unclipping Calhoun's leash and attempting to remove at least some of the mud and poplar seed pods from the dog. " Sounds like the 4:30 'hound' arriving!" "Sylvano and Freda are here!" Janet exclaimed as she grabbed her parka and rushed outside to greet first of the new arrivals.

"I'm going to have to back out of here when we leave." Sylvano said after bringing about and docking his American Eagle coach. "The front exit from this 'pull through' site drops off 'way too steeply for anything this long." Our Wagonmaster had arrived and was soon joined by the rest of the group. After everyone was set up we were all invited in to Sylvano's new pusher diesel for coffee and the grand tour.

"The campground here is carpeted with those sticky poplar seed pods."
The quote was too little and too late. All the club members had removed their shoes at the door of the motor home but the two resident small dogs couldn't resulting in a mess that had to be professionally cleaned.

Saturday May 16

Janet and I decided not to go on the trip to Miette Hot Springs and the later trip to town since Janet had an injured toe that was in some danger of infection. Most of the rest of the crew had a good time up there while we got to sleep in.

The Potluck Supper in the campground shelter worked well. Wagonmaster Sylvano bought firewood from the campground store for $4.50 per small bundle and stoked the stove in the shelter. Much food and conversation was shared by all , including Janet's ("Don't get too close to the stove!") bean salad. Eventually the increasing cold drove us all back into our RV's for the night.

Around 2 A.M. the next morning things started getting very cold in out trailer due to the furnace having gone out. I got dressed ,went outside,switched propane tanks, and re started the furnace.

Sunday May 17

"Why don't you put that in the back of the pickup and ride to the Lodge and into town with us?", said Gordon when he saw me removing the empty propane bottle. "We can go into Jasper and fill that after Brunch and the Maligne Canyon tour." "OK',I said and we loaded up Louise and Janet into the rear seat of the three door pickup and all headed for the Jasper Lodge. The weather had finally cleared and the beautiful mountain scenery on the trip into Jasper lifted everyone's spirits.

We arrived at the Jasper Lodge around 10 A.M.. Gordon eventually found a parking spot and we walked to the main lodge dining room where our group was to assemble.

"The Muzak seems awfully loud in here."
"Shh--you ninny!. That's a real player on a real grand piano and he's playing the love theme from 'The Titanic' " Janet whispered as she poked me in the ribs."Freda made reservations for fourteen." The momentary sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach abated a bit as the reservation clerk found our listing and asked us to wait as the table was prepared.

A few minutes later the rest of our group arrived and the headwaiter led us to a large table with a spectacular view of the lake & Pyramid Mountain.We all enjoyed the wonderful array of food on the smorgasbord as well as the ambiance of the elegant Lodge Dining Room..

"Do you see that tram up there? " , Gordon said as he looked in the general direction of Pyramid Mountain. " It was put there to service the microwave link to Canoe. I always wanted to get a ride on that thing when I worked here but never quite managed it.

"One of the people who built it got a bulldozer to the top of the mountain and later got it back down using a sliding technique. He never admitted it but I don't think he was all that well paid for the job."

Brunch cost each couple around thirty dollars plus tips , relieving the sinking feeling that had returned momentarily as the waitress brought our checks for what turned out to be a much better deal than some other places we've been in. The wives unanimously voted to tour the shopping mall in the Lodge basement and the grounds before we hit the road for Maligne Canyon.

"There he is!" George braked suddenly near Maligne Canyon's Fourth Bridge exit. A magnificent Silvertip Grizzly stood on his hind legs sniffing the air on a bluff to our left, sensed the truck and was off into the trees like a flash.

Maligne Canyon's parking lot was crowded with long week end visitors when we arrived there. Hiking down the canyon was easy but the 'short cut' back turned out to be quite steep so it was look at the canyon , drag Janet...... "That Grizzly seemed to be headed this way." sped up the process a bit.

Let's skip the sky tram and just go into Jasper then back to the campground." Louise suggested. "Good idea", I said,. "We've all been on it a few times already and it's too much like a city bus anyway. The gondola lift in Banff is a lot scarier." Everyone agreed so we hit the road again.

Elk,Mountain Sheep,and Mountain Goats were spotted during the trip back to the campground.

Later in the day we held a happy hour and barbecue back at the campground. Some of us had pigged out at brunch and weren't really hungry but just changed the menu to something lighter

"What I'd relly like is a Prevo..."
"What I'd really like is The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile "
A B.S. session followed the barbecue, then an invitation to watch the Oilers game in Hay's fifth wheel. Oilers lost, it was time to get the golf clubs out.

Monday May 18

"Our toaster didn't work."
"Our microwave oven didn't work."
"Our furnace quit in the middle of the night. Roy switched over to the battery and it started up again"
"Now we know why they have that big "No Air Conditioners" sign at the park entrance."

Evidently roughing it in the great outdoors isn't what it used to be , especially when the campground is marginally wired and chock full of RV's which in turn are full of all sorts of electrical gadgets. There were some more interesting conversations as the group packed up for the trip home.

Epilogue

"We had eight rigs out for the Folding Mountain trip. Some things were not as expected..." (Wagonmaster Sylvano's report to the next club general meeting.) Proving,I suppose, that the first trip of the season always has a few nasty surprises like the time the windshield popped out on his motor home.

Camp outs at Half Moon Lake and Drumheller were held, and some members also attended the Chestermere Lake (Calgary) Samboree during the Summer of 1998. We also volunteered to help with the 1999 Samboree in Camrose,Alberta.


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